Growing up in the suburban sprawl of New Jersey, Rachel Morris ’13 spent the first 17 years of her life witnessing farmland and open spaces transform into strip malls and development projects.
“I have become keenly aware of the environmental implications this has had on the wildlife as well as the people who seek open spaces to enjoy the outdoors,” she said. Now, the 21-year-old senior is committed to preserving open spaces so current and future generations can experience them before there are none left.
The political science major had the opportunity of a lifetime this past summer, when she interned with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, a component of the Executive Office of the President. Working in Washington, D.C., she covered Congressional hearings, performed research and analysis on bills, and prepared briefing memos for the Administration and Hill staff.
Most important, the internship fostered Morris’ interest in environmental policy.
“It has so many far-reaching implications for our lives and those of future generations: from the water we drink, [to] the air we breathe, [to] the climate we live in.” She has now seen firsthand how environmental issues can become overshadowed by other policy considerations such as the economy.
Morris says people need to realize the link between environment and the economy. “By adopting more sustainable and energy-efficient practices and policies, this could have a positive impact on the economy.”
After returning to TCNJ this fall, Morris is taking her internship experience and applying it to conduct research for her thesis. She is determined to raise awareness that the House of Representatives is weakening what she feels are important environmental
“The environment has become such a partisan issue for members of Congress. It could have a substantial impact on environmental policies and regulations,” she said. Morris intends to pursue these issues further after graduation, as she plans to return to D.C. to continue her work in environmental policy so that generations to come have a safe environment to live in and open spaces to enjoy.